Tag Archives: Kate Morton

The Lost Gardens of Heligan – Cornwall


From the Garden of Eden in Christian tradition gardens are typically thought of as a safe enclosure as opposed to the Australian bush or the European forest.

I first read about the lost gardens of Heligan in the wonderful Kate Morton novel, The Forgotten Garden, with all its mystery, romance and a garden it inspired me to read more about the garden that was the inspiration for Kate’s novel.

Heligan, seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years, is one of the most mysterious and romantic estates in England. A genuine secret garden, it was lost for decades; its history consigned to overgrowth.

At the end of the nineteenth century Heligan’s thousand acres were at their zenith, but only a few years later bramble and ivy were already drawing a green veil over this “Sleeping Beauty”. The outbreak of WW1 was the start of the estate’s demise as its workforce went off to fight in the trenches; many sadly never to return

This was a story played out in many of the large estates throughout Britain’s war period.Unlike many other estates, however, the gardens and land at Heligan were never sold or developed. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Heligan House itself was eventually sold and split into private apartments.

 Bee Boles 
After decades of neglect, the devastating hurricane of 1990 should have consigned the now lost gardens to a footnote in history. But the gardens have been restored and The Lost Gardens of Heligan, by Tim Smit is a book that tells the story of the gardens.
The symbolism of gardens is something that has been
with us for thousands of years, and to me, there is nothing
like being in a garden on sunny day,  a cup of tea at my elbow,
and a book to read. And, Bella drowsing under a daisy bush
as cats do.
Enjoy time in a garden or take a walk in a park,
and most importantly, stop and smell the flowers.

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What Elise Wrote-Goodreads Giveaway

I would like to thank every one who has entered the Goodreads competition. There is still  1 day and 12 hours to enter and win a copy of Castle of Dreams. 141 people have now entered! It is a figure that compares favourably with other Allen & Unwin authors (well not Kate Morton who is an inspiration to so many writers) in the Goodreads Giveaway. If you go to my home page there is a link to my Goodreads page.

It is only seven weeks now until Allen & Unwin publish Castle of Dreams so I don’t have to wait long until my novel is in bookshops and other retail outlets all over Australia.

I have had great support from writer friends and also my family. A friend from my time working at the Museum of Western Australia got in touch via Facebook to let me know she now manages a bookshop in the south of the state and has ordered copies of Castle of Dreams and my own local bookshops have already been visited by an Allen & Unwin representative and ordered books!

I find my writer friends are generous and sharing in spreading the word about  Castle of Dreams  and most of them are not Allen & Unwin authors but happy to support a fellow writer.

I followed the guidelines on Allen & Unwin’s innovative Friday Pitch (which is now everyday) and eventually after some rewriting I got ‘the call’! I was in the midst of moving house, literally waving off the removalists (the Kelly boys who do come from Ned Kelly country and one of the boys looks like Ned!)  when Louise Thurtell my publisher rang me. I had a new home and a publishing contract! I have not been through the publishing process with a big publisher before and found every single person I dealt with to be supportive and understanding but their guidance was done with a firm and professional hand.

I have been invited to do author talks and I can see a busy period coming up. I have started book 2 and I  am also editing a friend’s manuscript. I want to have the first draft done of book 2 by my birthday which is 8th August. Last night I worked out how many words I would need to do (100,000 word manuscript) each week to achieve this: either 1000 words for five days of the week or 750 words per day for 7 days.

Being an organised person I need to set gaols and when a project is broken down it doesn’t seem so daunting. I also do a check-in each day via email with two writer friends and we all find this very helpful. It is hard sometimes to keep to a writing schedule but necessary. I love to research and find if I’m  not careful I spend too much time doing it so with book 2  (I work in ‘Pages’) I make a note on screen and come back to it later. (Thank you to my writer friend who told me about this feature as I use it all the time.)

Enjoy your weekend and good writing to all,




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Filed under Allen & Unwin, Castle of Dreams, Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Castle of Dreams will be released by Allen & Unwin on 27th April, 2016. It is a dual narrative story set in two different time periods.

I love to research but I do have a few tips.

I read primary sources like diaries, letters and newspaper reports (Trove is wonderful!). I read books written about and of the period I am researching. I google but online information can be inaccurate so be careful and check more than one source. I use my wonderful local library and inter-library loans for books I don’t necessarily want to keep on my bookshelf, and also, I always read bibliographies carefully in each book as they are a source of more information on the subject you are researching.

I talk to experts in the area I am writing about. I have a military friend who is also a writer of novels and as one period of Castle of Dreams was set in WW2 during the Pacific War I asked him many questions and most importantly I could rely on his answers.

I have read all Kate Morton’s books which I loved and note that she studied and earned a Licentiate in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London. I have often wondered if this the reason Kate can so immerse herself in the character she is writing about that I feel I am that person. It certainly makes for a page turning book. And Kate writes about the things and places I love: mystery, England, Cornwall, and history all sprinkled with a touch of magic.

Synopsis: Castle of Dreams

A ruined castle deep in the rainforest holds a secret that unites three generations of women: two sisters who find themselves in love with the same man as the Second World War rages and, decades later, a young woman determined to uncover the secrets in her grandmother’s hidden past.

Growing up together in a mysterious castle in northern Queensland, Rose and Vivien Blake are very close sisters. But during the Second World War their relationship becomes strained when they each fall in love with the same dashing but enigmatic American soldier.

Rose’s daughter, Linda, has long sensed a secret in her mother’s past, but Rose has always resisted Linda’s questions, preferring to focus on the present.

Years later Rose’s granddaughter, Stella, also becomes fascinated by the shroud of secrecy surrounding her grandmother’s life. Intent on unravelling the truth, she visits the now-ruined castle where Rose and Vivien grew up to see if she can find out more.

Captivating and compelling, Castle of Dreams is about love, secrets, lies – and the perils of delving into the past . . .

An Excerpt

“The taxi arrived at eleven. Vivien said goodnight to Mrs Sherman and Cecily and patted Mercury. It was only when William walked her out to the porch that she noticed his limp.

He looked down and caught her puzzled expression. ‘Fromelles,’ he said quietly. ‘I wear an artificial leg.’

The balmy night air brought the scent of roses and summer jasmine, tubs of gardenias gleamed in the moonlight, and she could hear water tinkling in a nearby fountain. William, shining a small torch before them on the path, escorted Vivien to the front gate and into the taxi as rain began to fall over the leafy suburb.”

Photos of the Castillo de Suenos aka (Paronella Park)

This is the natural pool under the falls where Vivien and Rose learnt to swim.


The concrete tables where Vivien and Rose would throw their towels before they had a swim.


This is the staircase leading from the castle to the pool.


And today you can get married in the rainforest at

Paronella Park!



Filed under Allen & Unwin, Castle of Dreams, Elise McCune, Paronella Park, What Elise Wrote